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Riders of the Storm: Deserter
Posted By: SeverianofUrth<residentpark@aol.com>
Date: 11 June 2004, 7:29 PM

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      A man stood in the middle of the road, blood drenched. He held up the all-too familiar sign these days:
      "Work for food, transportation."
      The coat he had on was all-too small for his gaunt, but admittedely big frame. He had the remains of an M6D pistol concealed rather obstrusively inside the coat. He was, as one can plainly see, a deserter far from the field of battle.
      I passed over him, who held the ages-old sign of hitchhikers and general scumbags: a thumb upheld, stretched til' it bent at an odd angle. I stopped, about some fifty feet past him; I turned, drove over to him, and opened the back door. "Hop in," I said.
      "Thank ya', sir." His voice, pathetically young, wavered as he attempted to get it bolder. "Thank you, good man."
      I smiled. "Deserting?"
      "Wha- what?" I saw his hand stray to the insides of his coat.
      "Listen. I don't give a damn about it, and I don't have the Byzantine corruption, either. I take in people like you, hell, I was like you myself." His eyes widened in surprise.
      "Now let go of that damn thing you got in there." He was even more surprised, I saw. I waved over to the too-conspicous bulge. "That's a gun if I never saw one before."
      "Ya, it is." He nodded. "I have to be armed, you know. The new kind of the aliens- they eat anything." He gesticulated over to the far-off floating city of Chicago, where purple streaks of fire could be seen ripping through the air. "My name is... Streakley."
      "Good to know, son. I'm Gentle. Tom Gentle."

      We reached the hideout by twelve o'clock. I had turned on the newsband, but as the holoannouncer spoke on about the need for patriotism and courage for Mother Earth, Streakley blushed with... shame? He asked me to turn it off. I did.
      The hideout... Two guardposts, marked with the insignia of UNSC, stood out starkly against the general pattern-camouflaging of the lab. Streakley reacted violently when he saw the posts; he attempted to raise his pistol, but before that I had him sealed off in the back, gassed out and drooling.
      I passed next to the post, and a soldier came out, rifle in hand. He signed over to the prone form of the deserter. "'nother one, sir?"
      "For the labs, son."

      Maybe I'm a horrible person. But I am, however evil you may think me, a dutiful person. I do my duty. I bring in random deserters and bums, for the labs, where they might be of service to the country, no, to the whole damn world. What they do in the labs is not of my concern; but since the extinction of chimps the best way to test the new Flood-virus is to practice on real, live humans- see what we can do with it.
      I got out of the car, and let the aides carry the deserter out. They load him up on a cart, and roll away.

      People are afraid of me. Don't know why. I tried to explain at first that as long as they are of use to our survival, meaning duty and service above one's own life, they aren't in danger. I explain that I'm like a exterminator, no, a dog catcher, rounding up pests to be killed or sold. It's all... duty, in the end.

      I have to wonder what they will do to ol' Streakley, though.

      The next day comes. I went around a bit through the fields, searching for more pests, but I didn't find any. Restful, really. I sat outside, taking a good smoke... Something I can't do in the labs.
      The sun is still beautiful. No matter how old you are, if you can't see the goddamn sunrise and feel moved by it, you aren't human.
      Amazing how the mind wanders. I still think of my wife- she who has been dead since the battles inside the cities of Los Angeles. Not by the Covenant, either: by insurgents who wished to join the aliens. The damn traitors. They shot anyone down, until they got mowed down by the UNSC marines.
      She was beautiful, though. The woman I killed, I mean. My wife was a sack of lard.

      A figure in the distance breaks me out of my reverie, and I hurriedly look around, get out my binoculars. I sight the thing- then I scramble for the car.
      Flood. I know I have to warn the lab. Maybe something escaped from their labs, so harshly guarded by squads of ODSTs, but I still have to warn them.
      Another one. Oh gods, another, another... A swarm of them. They surround me, condemning me with their rotting eyes.

      It has been determined that the Flood attack troopers we have created are fully conscious, abel to take orders and pursue their prey with as much intelligence of a simian. The test case, performed on Gentle, Tom, posthumously awarded the Starcross medallion for his services to humanity, was a success, as they tracked him down, and exterminated him with due predjuice.
      The attack troops have been named "Riders of the Storm"- after a old pre-2000 song.

      THE END.